I have several new readers who are beginning stampers. They have emailed me over the last few months to ask if I would, now and then, post some beginner tips. I told them that once the new year came I would try to do that, and then I forgot. So, after a reminder I am off and running with this.
These are very basic but hopefully useful tips about different kinds of stamps.
Clear Stamps- Clear stamps are clear until you get them inked. They may remain somewhat stained, but that won't hurt the way they stamp. It is important to not use anything with alcohol in it on them. This includes the baby wipes you use for cleaning or any stamp cleaners. I use baby wipes and for really messy stamps I use Ultra Clean Spray. Do not use Windex or other products. Also, according to Nichole at Papertrey, just putting them in a strainer and cleaning them in a sink of soapy water and then air drying on a lint towel now and then helps them stick to the clear acrylic blocks you use them with. I love clear stamps because
1) you can store so many in one CD case (with the insert removed), 2-they are fabulous for positioning because they are see through, and 3-they are generally much less expensive and you get more stamps per set. Years ago they were not good quality and yellowed, but the newer stamps are wonderful and hold up for years. I clean my acrylic blocks with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to keep them sparkling and shiny. The only downfall I see is that the small ones are easy to lose so I always leave them attached to the block until I clean them and either put them in the CD or put them in a container I keep on my work area for this purpose.
Unmounted Stamps- You can buy bare rubber and attach it to cling foam and then use these stamps on the same clear blocks you use with your clear stamps.
I purchase EZ Mount at All That Scraps (online) and use special rubber cutting scissors called Kai scissors to trim them out. You can also purchase UM's with the cling already attached before you buy them. I unmounted all my wood mount stamps and put them on EZ Mount and store them in CDs. These can be cleaned with baby wipes and I also use the Ultra Clean on them if I use metallic or pigment inks with them.
Foam Stamps- These are the cheapy stamps you find in the area to do wall decorating or in kids' sections of stores. They give a spongy looking appearance and they are hard to get clean, but I do have a few in my collection because they work on special projects.
Wood Mounted Stamps- These are kind of becoming a thing of the past. Most people do not like the idea of paying for wood when you don't need it and disposing of good wood when you UM seems kind of wasteful. The wood gets stained when you use these, and they are almost impossible to position at all precisely unless you use a tool for positioning. I UM any wood stamps I purchase as soon as I get them home. You will also find them to be outrageously expensive. Cleaning is the same as for UMs.
Clear Mount-This is what Stampin' Up calls their unmounted stamps that come with the cling on them. Many people feel this is confusing. They are about 20% less than the wood mounts, and easier to ship. They also take up less room in your stamp room which is why people were so vocal about SU offering this option.
I use my stamps with clear blocks purchased with coupons at JoAnn, found on sale, or found at Walmart. Also, you can save plastic containers like Tic Tac boxes or the hard plastic boxes that eyeliner sometimes comes in, and use those in a pinch. I like to have several sizes and at least 2 blocks in each size just so I can have all the blocks I need for one stamping session without switching back and forth.
If you are putting EZ mount cling on stamps, after you get the stamps stuck on the sheet but before cutting, sprinkle all the sticky with baby powder over a sink. Makes cutting a much, much easier job. Ultra Clean is fabulous to use when cleaning your scissors if they get sticky.
Using a hot knife (like you find in the woodburning tools at Michaels), makes trimming out your stamps a breeze! Smells a bit, but really saves your hands if you are doing a lot of them.
I buy my jewel style CD cases at K-Mart. Cheapest place I have found. Then pop out the insert and I break off the tabs inside the front cover by pressing scissor handles on them until they snap. I label the case spines with sticky labels I make on the computer.
Hoping this is helpful for someone!
My favorites are the clear, but I am OK with the UM's. I only buy a wood mount these days if it is an image I just have to have.